This is a very intriguing match up. Liverpool have been arguably the continent’s biggest over-achievers in their last two European campaigns, albeit they fell at the final hurdle both times. Then there’s Paris Saint-Germain, who have more money than most countries yet haven’t been able to venture past the last eight of the Champions League.
Throw in the Dortmund connection of Jürgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel, plus Neymar’s needle about the Reds finishing outside the top four this season, and Liverpool vs PSG looks set to be a cracker.
Presumably Neymar was just upset because James Milner equalled his record for assists in a Champions League campaign. Looking at how the players of Liverpool and PSG performed last season, they were the top two for attack points.
While Milner obviously doesn’t have the Brazilian’s dribbling skills, he is excellent at delivering balls into the box from wide areas, despite nominally playing as a central midfielder.
Only two of the 32 sides in last season’s Champions League faced more crosses per game than PSG, so it will be interesting to see if Liverpool follow suit. Of course, in view of the Reds core attacking strength through the centre, the French champions will likely be more than happy to force Liverpool wide and then take their chances when the ball comes in.
Crossing from dead ball situations could prove vitally important too. One of the two sides who scored more set-piece goals than PSG in Europe’s elite club competition in 2017/18 were Liverpool, so will they play a part at Anfield? If they do, it may be more down to second balls rather than pinpoint delivery, as only two of the Reds’ seven set piece goals were directly assisted last season, and none of PSG’s were.
Indeed, Liverpool’s opening goal in their 2-1 win at Tottenham on Saturday came into the ‘non-assist set piece goal’ category, as Gini Wijnaldum scored his first away goal in the Premier League. He was also Twelve’s man of the match, and will surely keep his place on Tuesday.
But all eyes will be on the respective front threes. Since the start of last season the forward trios of the two clubs have scored 199 goals between them in club football, with the French sides threesome just one goal ahead. Who would bet against Firmino, Mané and Salah drawing level at Anfield in this match, or even nudging in front? At least one of them has scored in all five Liverpool games this season, after all.
For PSG, Neymar was rested on Friday night after the international break, while Kylian Mbappé wasn’t involved after being sent off in the previous match against Nimes. The French champions beat St. Etienne 4-0, and the other member of their first choice front line – Edinson Cavani – scored from the penalty spot.
The clubs have only met once previously, in the semi-finals of the Cup Winners Cup (ask your dad, kids) in 1997. PSG won the first leg 3-0, before losing 2-0 at Anfield, and went on to lose to Barcelona in the final. With the attacking fire power which will be on show on Tuesday, it’s hard to see either side keeping a clean sheet this time.